Nostalgia….Spanish Camp (Part 1)

We left the $11. a night motel just outside of Winthrop, a sleepy little town in the eastern foothills of the Cascade Mountains. winthrop We had to be at the corral by 6AM sharp.  The pavement became dirt four miles out of town and we drove the last few miles dodging pot holes and rocks.  It was September 10, 1962. Nestled amongst quaking aspen trees just off the road was a large fenced corral.  Pick up trucks were parked haphazardly about and men were off loading horse-pack gear and tack.  As we parked, our guide walked over and introduced himself.  He reiterated that we could take as much as we liked to insure our comfort at the camp site.  We had taken him at his word.  We had packed a camp stove that was made from a half 25 gallon barrel, stove pipe and all.  Our large canvas tent slept four even though there was only the two of us. Camp chairs and a folding table.  Sleeping bags, extra pillows, Army folding cots so we could sleep off the ground and gun cases.  We were traveling in style. pack.horsesLess than an hour later, as the sun climbed over the mountains and flooded the valley with golden light we mounted our horses and followed the guide and six pack horses up to the trail head.  Our destination was twenty-two miles, by horseback, up switch backs to the Northwestern Primitive Area, where you could only go by foot or horseback.  As we gained 7,000 feet in altitude it began to snow and sleet.  It was high adventure but cold and bitter. Spanish Camp was so named a hundred years ago when the Basque sheep herders were prevalent, grazing their sheep in the high country in the summer.  The story went that three herders and a thousand sheep disappeared and were never heard from again. Folks speculated that they had stampeded off of a cliff.

We arrived at the forest ranger’s station seven hours later.  I’m not ashamed to say that I needed help getting off the horse and standing up.  We went into the station to get warm and have a cup of Joe.  The walls were painted a psychedelic mass of color.  When we asked about it the ranger laughed and said a bear had broken in, and looking for food, bit and punctured cans of paint. We could only imagine what the bear looked like. Other memories:

My ex-husband and friend, Jack has other vivid memories of  that trip:

It was 22 miles in to Spanish Camp and Andrew Pass was right around 7000′ it was snowing when we got to up toAndrew.pass near the pass and when we finally got to Beaver Creek where we camped we had about 6 or 8″ of snow to deal with in the dark.  The 4 hunters that we replaced had all gotten their deer and  stayed to help us set up.  We gathered wood and poured Colman fuel on it and got a big fire going and  then set up as best we could for the night.They left the next morning.
Join us on Saturday, June 14th for Part 2!

When we were young and adventuresome, minus the horses!
When we were young and adventuresome!


In addition to my twice weekly blog I also feature an interview with another author once a month. So come along with me; we shall sneak into these writers’ special places, be a fly on the wall and watch them create!   Dean Koontz is my June author.
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